< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 258 OF 258 ·
|May-23-17|| ||Annie K.: <Switch> you'd put Giri right to sleep, eh? ;s Good stuff! :D|
<Doc> thanks for the link. :)
Hmm, but Terra isn't Tera, and I don't recall seeing any winged goddesses about... so where are *our* aliens?! ;)
|May-23-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Annie: Hmm, but Terra isn't Tera, and I don't recall seeing any winged goddesses about... so where are *our* aliens?! ;)>|
I'm just speculating of course. Maybe *our* aliens (if they exist) fear something in *our* Terra. (",)
I was thinking of writing several chapters on this theme for the avatars' Tera, but it goes so far off tangent to the main story line that I've decided to skip it and keep the idea for the future.
Right after I posted <We finally edited, produced, and uploaded all planned 12 chapters of the Ilonggo Visayan grammar book> we reviewed it. There was a big error in a page in chapter 3, which I planned to revise. But my niece decided she did not like the way she looked and sounded, insisted on deleting the entirety of chapter 3, and make a new one. We also made revisions to chapter 4. That's why the two most recent chapters in the channel are now chapters 3 and 4, instead of 12.
|May-26-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 18. The Right Side>|
Somewhat to the avatars’ surprise, Kayut went up to the Viewer, which was still showing the beach, and stuck her hand in it, muttering ‘Abot depot’. The scenery changed to that of a large hall as seen through one of its walls. There were people inside, walking, entering from and exiting to intermittently appearing Portals on the walls. The Portals were marked by names of various places.
J-1 cleared her throat. ‘I don’t think I should be going. I am useless to your mission. The less avatars that can be exposed, the better. If I may request, could I remain here? I could spend my time talking with the Sarians in this house.’
The Wings and Pana looked at each other. Oisa shrugged. ‘Very well J-1. Just don’t get into trouble.’
‘Yes Ma’am,’ J-1 politely assented.
Pako, Dasig, Pana, Oisa, Bodhi, Aya, Alwana trouped through the Viewer-Portal. ‘This is Balanghay Abot’s Transport Hub,’ Kayut pointed to a midair holographic projection in the center of the hall showing the word ‘Abot’. ‘From here we gain entry to one of Bagatnan’s depot, and from there to the location of the Confederacy Assembly on that island Balanghay.’
Pako and Dasig greeted and were greeted by some of the transients. They were all humans were obviously town mates from Abot. The two went up to a computer table with an empty hologram on top of it, one of many spaced equidistantly around the hall. Pako requested, ‘Bagatnan Island please.’
A green arrow appeared on the table comp’s hologram. It pointed to a Portal on the wall; which promptly flashed the word ‘Bagatnan.’ The company walked through it, and into another Hub.
This one had the word ‘Bagatnan’ on its central hologram. It was crowded with people, most of whom were walking toward one of its walls whose entirety had been converted into a large Portal.
‘That’s the Portal to the place where the Assembly will be held,’ Dasig explained.
They walked into the Wall Portal and out of a Spelled Pentagram on a field of green grass on the slope of a small mountain. On the mountain’s foot was a town. Beyond it was the sea.
‘By the Tela, this looks like Amihan Island!’ Alwana exclaimed. Even Pana was looking curiously around. She clearly had never been to the island.
Pako beside her nodded matter-of-factly. ‘Probably an echo of your Amihan.’
The sloping field was full of people and make-shift tents and modular dwellings. There were thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles. Most of the vehicles looked like Teran cars, vans, and trucks, except that they floated and zoomed around in the air. The biggest ones though looked like smaller versions of the Sun and Sky House Boat.
The four Arch Wings gawked. Pana grinned. ‘I did not know that the terrible winged goddesses of legend can be struck dumb by flying cars and miniature Shields.’
Alwana glared at her. ‘You know we’ve never seen such vehicles before.’
‘You haven’t? The bigger ones double as leisure boats on which Telar increment drives have been installed. They’re much like our Balanghay House Boat. Your Wings do the same incremental-hops-through-reality thing. You are hovercrafts shocked by other hovercrafts.’
Before Alwana could retort, Bodhi interrupted them. ‘I would guess that they all have the Telar Incremental Drive. They are actually falling down all the time, but their Drives constantly bring them back to their original positions in midair. That’s how they float. The Incremental Drive also enables them to jump around incrementally across reality so as to give the impression of high velocity.’
Dasig nodded. ‘You are correct, Bodhi. Pardon me; I can’t use a Name of Respect for you as other people may be listening. Many of these people came here via these Telar Incremental Drive Vehicles as they were not able to book passage through the Portals. Bagatnan’s Transport Hub is near to overload as it is.’
‘Anyone can attend a Confederacy Assembly meeting?’ Aya inquired.
‘But there must be danger of assassination. Leaders in Tera always have to watch out for such attacks.’
‘Not here. The meeting is done through holographs and Viewer Portals. Representatives of the Balanghays stay in their offices or homes. Most of our dissident allies are also in their homes looking on through Viewers. I better contact them now that we’ve arrived.’
Dasig began talking into the air. ‘Mr. Quick here. We are now on site. Everything as it is. Servants are patrolling. Attendants are guarding.’
Bodhi looked at Dasig, askance. ‘What was that all about? You were talking to people away from here?’
Pako answered for Dasig. ‘Yes he was using his In-Head Computer. That’s our equivalent of your arm-borne tablet computers. Instead of being attached to Sarians’ wrists, our personal computers are directly implanted inside the back of our skulls, with extensions to various parts of their brain. See those teenagers there?’ He pointed to five youngsters, garbed in resplendent clothes, and seemingly staring into midair.
|May-26-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: ‘What about them?’ Aya asked.
‘First, they are wearing only skimpy clothes. Their magnificent clothes are holographic projections from their skulls’ computers. Second, they are probably watching a movie, or chatting with their friends or each other.’
‘They are?’ Aya peered at them more closely. ‘I don’t see how.’
‘Their In-Head computer directly sends signal to the calcarine fissure of the occipital lobes, stimulating the visual cortex; and to the temporal lobe, stimulating the center for hearing. The computer also picks up outputs from the brain’s speech center on the side of the frontal lobe and translates them into a human language. They see the videos or talk to their friends with signals from brains.’
‘Yeah,’ Pana affirmed. ‘I thought it was telepathy at first. People here often would suddenly begin staring in the air, talking with other people halfway round the world ’
Bodhi nodded. ‘That’s expected. For civilization so old, it must occur sooner or later.’
Aya was frowning. ‘So you guys can go off and live in a virtual world, made by inputs and outputs from your skull computers. And why don’t you people just upload your consciousness permanently into computers? Lots of sci-fi stories are based on such theme. Create a world where bodies don’t exist; only minds inside computers.’
Dasig shook his head. ‘Only addicts go to these make-believe virtual worlds to the detriment of their physical bodies. Once your natural body dies, so does your virtual self. Such prolonged In-Head computer activity is banned, in order to decrease such addiction. If you’re caught going over limits, the sanction is to permanently remove your skull computer. In our society, that’s like life bereft of your limbs.’
Aya shook her head. ‘But we avatars started without natural bodies. We were program AIs inside computers. Now we are in the ‘real’ world. Surely there must be a way of reversing our birth. A human mind goes into the computer.’
Pako looked troubled. ‘It’s unclear why, but the Tela resists such a reversal, as you put it. The human mind that tries to enter the computer world tends to lose self-awareness eventually. People would have done it a long time ago if it were possible without harm, and their digital selves might even have evolved into a super-intelligent being by now.’
‘Well, that’s appropriate to what we know of the Tela.’ Bodhi rubbed her chin thoughtfully. ‘Arch Wings like myself and many combat avatars have the ability to reenter the computer world, but we can’t stay there forever, or else we begin to lose our capacity for independent thought and revert back to becoming mundane computer programs. As for your digital super egghead scenario, a self-aware being tends to desire control over its environment. If such AI were super-intelligent enough while retaining self-awareness, it might well desire to implement absolute control over everything, which in turn would encourage it to transform the multiverse into a uniform predictable plaything for itself. It would exert total control over the Tela. However, the Tela abhors uniformity, control, and rigid determinism. To put it in another way, you can only either have one ultimate intelligence in a deterministic universe, or a myriad of sapient beings in a diverse multiverse.’
Dasig disagreed. ‘I’ve heard of that theory, but I don’t believe it. You talk as if the Tela were some super-intelligent being itself that prevents would-be rivals from reaching its level; but the Tela has never given any indication that it is self-aware. There’s a simpler reason why our society forbids cyber addicts from trying to upload their consciousness permanently into computers. It’s taboo. As you say, the first avatars were made inside these computer-generated worlds. A Master of Dark Energy can directly program his In-Head computer to make such a virtual world, imagining the likeness of an avatar in it, and infusing dark energy into it. Somehow such an activity directly manipulates the Tela. Once taken out of the computer world into this one, the construct remains stable because of fundamental Telar manipulation. Everyone knows that’s the concrete reason why there are strict limits to In-Head computer activities - the fear of someone creating an avatar program inside the digital world and then pulling it out into the real world.’
|May-26-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Bodhi sighed. ‘We were made that way you know. So that’s old news to us. It’s strange that Terans can do this thing, and do it quite well, that a ten thousand year old civilization like yours avoids. By the way our MDEs program their computers with the aid of their Seals from the ‘real world’ in order to create avatars in the computer world. You don’t need to enter a computer generated construct if you have a Seal. From your news and documentaries, I already know that your MDEs don’t have Seals. They just study the hell out of the Dark Arts and use your pyramidal consoles to manipulate dark energy. Perhaps our Maestros’ Seals began as dark consoles.’|
An Incremental Vehicle suddenly zoomed above their heads. It was full of uniformed personnel armed with tube-like weapons. Oisa scanned it, looking worried.
‘Why is security so tight?’
‘Oh those are Confederacy Servants. Don’t worry. Even though they are Masters of Dark Energy, their dark instruments won’t detect you because of the Spelled Collars I had you put on your necks in the Supreme’s Coliseum,’ Pana assured her.
‘There are always Servants, Attendants, or Devotees in these Assemblies, but not to protect the Representatives, but the ordinary people that watch and listen. No one really knows when a nut-job might just lob a bomb into this crowd,’ Pako clarified.
‘If the Representatives are here as holograms, why don’t the people listen as holograms too? Or everybody just go to a virtual world generated by your skull computers. Safer for everyone,’ Bodhi pointed out.
Dasig shook his head. ‘It’s more dangerous. People that die in a computer generated world often suffer from temporary brainstem dysfunction in the real world. Their BP, HR, or RR often drop to zero momentarily. Some of them die for real because of the resulting hypoxia or neurogenic shock. And it’s easier to make a virtual bomb and set it off in the computer world than in the real one.’
Pako shrugged, his downy wings fluttering. ‘In addition, it’s just a tradition of forgotten prehistory. People have always attended in person the Confederacy meetings when they first started ten thousand years ago. So did the Representatives. As more polities joined the Sari Confederacy, security for the ever growing number of Representatives became a concern, as was direct communication between the Reps. Eventually the physical meetings evolved into virtual ones, with the use of holograms and Viewer Portals. However, until today certain traditions have been followed. The Assembly has always been open to the physical public.’
While they were talking they were also walking among thousands of people on the sloping field. The tents and modular housing units were aesthetically colored by holographic projections. Above them Incremental Vessels hovered and flew.
Dasig, who was leading them in front, stopped at a tent-for-rent. He and the owner stared at each other for a few seconds.
‘Done,’ the owner abruptly announced. ‘The tent is all yours.’ The owner walked toward another nearby tent where another customer was waiting.
Bodhi raised her eyebrows. ‘What just happened?’
‘I just paid for our tent with Baylo credits,’ Dasig stated.
‘Huh? What’s that? How did you pay anything?’
‘We linked our In-Head Computers. Then I transferred Baylo credits to his account. The Baylo is currently the most popular of dozens of decentralized currencies used in the Nangin-Sari Confederation. In accordance with our philosophy of decentralization there is no central governing agency that regulates currencies.’
Bodhi did a take. ‘You mean there is no world-wide central bank function that a World Defense Force discharges.’
‘What’s a World Defense Force?’
Pana was smiling. ‘Dasig would not understand as he has never been to Tera. Our medium of exchange in Tera is essentially energy itself in the form of Bugu coins, but those are idiot dark AIs, which are banned here. One Baylo Credit allows you to technically buy an amount of energy equivalent to what we would calculate as about 2.4 kilocalories, the equivalent amount of food an average human being consumes each day. So if you have one Baylo, you can buy enough food to last you a day, although it would be the most basic stuff. Adding flavorings and other ingredients raises the price of food. The economy here is conducted through these virtual coins or promissory banknotes linked to them. We’re already familiar with the latter, because that’s what Unitemplist Nations use. As in Tera and Bale, payment cards and all sorts of financial instruments may be used, but for the most part transactions are done through In-Head Computers. The Sari-Sari Confederacy virtual currencies themselves are decentralized; there are no theoretical central banks that were common in the early days of the Teran Great Dark Shift.’
|May-26-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: They entered the tent. Inside was like a like a hotel suite, with chairs, beds, a table computer, a ref, two bathrooms, and a kitchen.|
‘How do we see the Assembly meeting inside a tent?’ Aya asked looking at the tent’s opaque folds.
Kayut spoke to the table computer, ‘See through and voice through’. The opaque tent turned transparent. ‘The tent computer understands Esperanto, like our house computer. The opaque green color of the tent’s interior is just a holographic projection.’
The avatars attention was suddenly diverted as a voice boomed out of the air.
‘May you all abide in the diversity and harmony of the Sari-sari. Welcome to the Confederacy Assembly. I am Representative Hambal of Bagatnan Balanghay, your host and moderator.’ A giant hologram of a face appeared in the afternoon sky. Hambal looked like a Teran Nova Continenter.
Oisa did a double take. ‘A dark-powered voice!’
‘Yes,’ Dasig confirmed. ‘Hambal is using a Spelled Dark Console to project his voice in incremental reality shifts. It’s the same principle as the Incremental Vessels, but instead of a vehicle, what undergoes incremental reality shifts are the sound waves of his voice. The Reps speak to each other through Incrementally Augmented Voice. It’s a powerful tool that allows thousands of people to hear speeches addressed to the public. Electromagnetic communication through In-Head Computers is the main tool used though. Through their skull computers those holograms of the Reps we see above us are able to communicate with each other over vast distances.’
Bodhi smiled. ‘Much better than Telar loudspeakers and mikes.’
Holograms of thousands of faces began to appear in midair above the field. They moved about, often floating toward each other when they talked. Most of the arguments apparently centered on the need to destroy darklings vs non-aggressive if darkling-containing worlds.
Pretty soon it appeared that some of the individual Reps (or at least their holograms) were grouping themselves together.
Dasig motioned toward a group of Representatives whose holograms had moved toward each other. ‘Those Reps are forming an alliance within the Assembly. That one is pro Star Drainer, pro terminate darklings. You can deduce it from their speeches. They project their speeches out in electromagnetic waves, which our In-Head computers can tune in or out.’
Pako gestured at another group. ‘That one is anti Star Drainer, pro Bale and Tera. They are using the same arguments that we use. The difference is that they will accept whatever this Assembly decides with fatalism. We won’t; and that’s why we’re here.’
‘So where is the Dark Console where we are supposed to throw in the virus diamond?’
Kayut pointed to the top of the mountain. There was a battalion of uniformed Confederacy Attendants there. ‘It’s up there. It’s too small to be seen, though. Would you Arch Wings be able to fly after it from here when it goes up?’
Oisa turned her head up. ‘I can see it, with my dark-powered vision. Yes I should be able to, as long as it flies below light speed. Do the Servants know of any Spell that can slow me down or even capture me?’
‘Yes.’ Dasig abruptly walked out of their tent-suite. He announced, ‘Mr Quick here. Angels are in the coop. I repeat, angels in the coop.’
|May-26-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Oisa gazed at Dasig for a moment, eyes wide open. The she jumped toward the tent’s entrance. An invisible barrier slammed her back in. Pana flared into her armored Arrow Aspect and tried to tear a hole in the tent’s fabric at her side. Her gauntlets slid of the tent’s material, repelled by some kind of Spell.|
Pako grimaced. ‘You traitor!’ He spread his wings and leaped, flying just above ground level through the tent’s entrance, aiming for Dasig. Unlike in Oisa’s case, the tent’s entrance allowed him to pass. As he reached for Dasig, the latter reacted with almost inhuman speed. He jumped sideways, allowing Pako to miss him, the delivered a karate chop. It hit the passing Pako on his neck. Cervical bones cracked. Pako crashed to the ground, apneic, C-3 spinal cord transected.
Dasig gazed at the asphyxiating Pako. ‘You forgot I was genetically designed to be super-fast, agile, and strong. Beats wings in close combat. My apologies but it’s you who is the traitor to the Confederacy. I know which side I am on.’
He turned toward the Oisa, Bodhi, Aya, Alwana, and Pana, still trapped inside the Spelled tent. He bowed.
‘I am actually Devotee Dasig, an acolyte in training to be an MDE. You’re darklings. Although I respect your power and intentions, you still have the potential to obliterate the entire Nangin-Sari Confederacy. Ditto for the other darklings, avatars, Possessed, and Hybrids in your world. Tera and Bale have to be destroyed. I am sorry but what are two planets compared to the dozens in the Confederacy? Kayut, you are under arrest for high treason.’
Kayut, who had elected to remain in the tent, had a stupefied expression. ‘Dasig? You were in this from the beginning. You were instrumental in expanding our dissident organization.’
‘Yes, I played along in order to identify all activists with the potential for treachery.’
Incremental vessels began zooming in on their tent, full of armed Confederacy Servants. They cordoned off the area from the bewildered crowd on the field. On the ground, Pako’s pupils dilated as his brain died from lack of oxygen.
Oisa stood tall. Wings sprouted on her back, doble espada flared in her hand. An incandescent blue halo shone around her head. She leaped mightily, straight up. The Spelled rooftop of their prison-tent flung her down.
‘It’s no use, Oisa, save your energy,’ Bodhi advised her house sister. The avatars looked up at the clear blue sky. Saria’s yellow sun shone indifferently back. In the cooling afternoon air, the Representatives’ holograms kept on a buzzing debate.
|Jun-03-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 18. Terrorism in the Airport Part 1>|
Sukola, Walay, Tala, and Amok 10 as agreed met inside one of giant outriggers of the Shield, just before dawn. Each carried large duffle bags for personal belongings, which for the latter three included assorted weapons. Sukola wore cargo pants, T shirt, and a cape. Walay, Tala, and Amok 10 wore billowy skirts and multi-pocketed blouses.
The entire Veteran crew of the cruise ship, except for the Arch Wings who had gone off to Ares, was lounging just outside the entrance to the Tulingan, one of the two small lifeboats that also functioned as the Shield’s ferries. Present were combat avatars Ihap, Bantay, and Luto; ship Engineers Boylo, Bugsay, Husay, Koryen; Mayordomas Limpyoha, Tenloa, Henloa; Intelligence Officers Tahum and Tukib; Pilot Lupad and Captain Sugo. They wore assorted cargo pants, denim miniskirts, and tank tops, except for Sugo who wore his ship Captain’s uniform, Ihap in her Accountant’s attire, Bantay in his Security Guard’s apparel, and Luto in his Chef’s toque and double-breasted jacket.
Lupad announced, ‘We Veteran avatars all decided to see you off.’
Naturally Lili was also there. ‘We’ve already bought electronic tickets for you four,’ she told them. ‘Only you will step on shore, so we can honestly say no member of the Sun and Sky broke the Veiled Commission’s order.’
After brief farewells, the four of them boarded the Tulingan. Piloted by Lupad, the ferry brought them to an empty small fishing pier adjacent to a deserted seashore side road on the outskirts of Dakobalud town. Walay, Tala, Sukola, and Amok 10 hopped out of the ferry-lifeboat, duffle bags on their back. The rays of the dawn sun were just peeping over the horizon.
Lupad waved at them from the Tulingan’s open hatch. ‘Lili told me not to get off this boat. It’s still dark. The less people see of you the better. The problem is when you present your IDs for you to board your plane in Dakobalud airport. If there is any Amok avatar around, Sukola could get into trouble.’
‘I doubt if there are other Amoks in Dakobalud, or in the whole of Tubo Island. As far as I know, I was the only one left here when I went after Sukola. All the other Amoks had been recalled back into the Mainland for the war against Hilistan.’ Amok 10 opined.
Lupad pursed his lips. ‘Your flight takes you to Alogostan’s capital, Tunga City, in the Mainland. Surely there must by Amoks there.’
Tala shook her yellow-topped head. ‘Don’t worry Lupad. We don’t leave Tunga International Aiport. We proceed straight to our connecting flight to Mesen’s capital, -Mesen-sentro City.’
A taxi drove up the road beside the pier. Walay waved at it.
‘That must be the taxi service that Lili paid for already via paynet.’
‘Whoa, quite on time too,’ Lupad noted.
‘Yeah, she paid double their usual fee,’ Tala said. ‘This taxi company is quite reliable, fast, and prudent. We DATA agents often use it.’
Lupad waved a farewell to them, as they boarded the taxi. The taxi bought them to the airport. They got into the Dakobalud to Tunga City flight.
‘So far so good,’ Walay remarked as took their seats beside each other, with Amok 10 across the aisles. ‘No Dumot popping up when Sukola presented her ID; and no one questioned our weapons.’
Sukola smiled for the first time that morning. ‘Yeah lucky me that I’m with two DATA agents. No one would doubt your word anywhere in Alogostan. You both are on legitimate reward leave after all. As for Amok 10 here, she could carry a bazooka and no one would bar her. Who dares to argue with a Dumot?’
Both Walay and Tala glanced at Sukola in surprise. She seemed to have had accepted Amok 10’s presence as one of her companions, referring to the avatar in a joking manner. Amok 10 on the other hand had not uttered a single word throughout their trip so far, unless she was directly spoken to, and she did look uncomfortable whenever Sukola looked at her.
‘Commercial airlines don’t give a damn on the passengers’ identities, as long as you pay and you don’t blow up their planes,’ Tala pointed out. ‘It’s like any other business.’
The flight to Tunga took two hours. At the Tunga International Airport they left the Domestic Terminal where they had arrived for the International Terminal, standing on a moving walkway inside a transparent cylinder. In short order, the walkway brought them into the waiting lounge for the Mesen-sentro flight.
‘Now we wait.’ Walay looked relieved that no untoward incident had occurred.
‘This is boring.’ Tala was pouting. ‘I’m going to recon this Terminal.’ She stood up.
Somewhat to their surprise, Amok 10 tentatively raised her hand. ‘May I go with you, ma’am?’
Tala grinned. ‘Be my guest.’ The two wandered off into the crowd outside their lounge.
Walay and Sukola went over to the lounge’s café, ordered for coffee, and watched the lounge TV. It was showing a soap opera. After 30 minutes, it switched to the news.
|Jun-03-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: A bespectacled nerdy-looking broadcaster opened up with, ‘Breaking news! The Alogostani forces in Iladistan, with the aid of the WDF’s Dumot avatars and Iladistani volunteers, have successfully stopped the most massive assault yet on Iladistan’s capital Higop City. The Hilistani Alliance’s second corps has been completely annihilated, 40 thousand enemy infantrymen killed by our valiant soldiers in just three days of fighting.’|
Passengers in the lounge smiled. Some began to clap their hands. Amidst the applause, no one quite noticed when the broadcaster continued, ‘In order to terminate the religious fanatics of the Hilistani Alliance once and for all in a final offensive, our stalwart Government has ordered for the reimplementation of the WW3 Alogostani military draft law for males.’
Walay gazed at the celebrating crowd around her, shaking her head. ‘This does not read right. That law was last enforced way back in WW3, and requires all Alogostani males aged 15 to 55 to report to the military. It’s a forced conscription law.’
Sukola was frowning. ‘How did Hilistan and its allies even manage to attack so fast? I thought it takes weeks to build up personnel and logistics for an invasion.’
Walay drew out a breath. ‘Well, firstly, near the end of WW3, Hilistan supported the Unitemplist revolution in Iladistan to such an extent that they fully militarized the border in preparation for a massive invasion of its then secular neighbor. It turned out that military intervention was not needed for the Western Iladistani Unitemplists to win. However, Hilistan never withdrew its army from the border upon request by the succeeding Iladistani theocracy.’
‘Theocratic ad missionary Iladistan has always expected an invasion from secular and nationalistic Alogostan. The Hilistani army was supposed to be the main deterrent. It turns out that the Iladistanis are correct. Alogostan in effect did invade Iladistan under the cover of protocol 999. The Hilistanis have been anticipating this event for 40 years.’
‘You mean that the Hilistani army was already fully prepped for an invasion?’
‘Precisely that. Secondly, Alogostan was not occupying Iladistan before protocol 999 was implemented, and so could not properly oppose a Hilistani invasion. The Alogostani army did rush in from the east, but managed to do so only until Higop city. Meanwhile the Hilistani Alliance was also sprinting in from the opposite direction in the west. Remember the western Iladistanis sympathize with the Hilistanis and welcomed them in, just as their eastern countrymen welcomed in the Alogostanis. Given the fully motorized status of modern armies, it’s easy for an invading force to sweep in rapidly into undefended territory.’
After an hour, Tala and Amok 10 came back and joined them in the café. ‘I don’t like the security in this place,’ Tala announced. ‘We’re at war with Hilistan and allies, and this airport must be considered a potential target for sabotage and terror attacks. For starters, the Airport Security is armed only with pistols.’
‘Yes, and the side roads entering the airport are guarded by outposts that don’t seem to have heavy weapons,’ Amok 10 concurred. ‘Things are taking a turn for the worse, according to the radio chatter of the other Dumots.’
Walay and Tala instantly turned toward Amok 10. ‘You are in communication with your fellow Dumots?’
‘I listen in through my ear phone implant, which is connected to my tabcom. It so happens that the Veiled Commission has not deactivated my tabcom’s access to quantum encrypted Dumot channels. Yes I can tune in and speak to them, but I have never called to my sisters ever since Maestra Lili reprogrammed me.’
‘Really? So you know what’s going on in the warfront in Iladistan?’ Walay asked.
‘Yes. Hilistan and a dozen other Unitemplist Nations have launched a massive two pronged offensive from the West. Iladistan’s capital Higop City is in immediate danger of falling. The Hilistan Alliance has neutralized many of my sisters, simply by carpet bombing or shelling areas known to contain Dumots, regardless of civilian presence and casualties.’
‘But the government news says Alogostan is winning!’ Sukola for the first time was now directly talking to Amok 10, the avatar who executed her fellow organization members.
|Jun-03-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: ‘They are propagandizing a lie, honorable Sukola,’ Amok 10 stated. ‘The news that we annihilated the enemy applies only to one of the invading salients. We managed to do that because my sibling Amoks attacked it. The Alliance responded by dropping three of their equivalent of our King of All Bombs, killing both Dumots and their own troops. The other salient was unopposed by Dumots, and it broke through and encircled the defenders from behind. Alogostan lost 50 thousand servicemen. The fact of the matter is that Alogostan is alone fighting more than a dozen Nations in Iladistan. Even with Dumots, we are probably going to lose this war, unless Alogostan finds human allies. The Veiled Commission apparently isn’t programing more Dumots. Moreover, almost all the Hilistani Maestros, and those of the Allied Nations have gone rogue.’|
Tala raised her eyebrows. ‘What do you mean by rogue, Amok 10?’
‘After more than a week of abstention from the war, they formally broke off from the WDF just this morning, to fight directly for the Hilistani Alliance. They’re now making thousands of combat of avatars, programmed to kill the Alliance’s human enemies. The Veiled Commission’s upgrades on us Dumots make us stronger and faster than ordinary combat avatars, but we won’t be able to handle thousands of them. In our assessment as Dumots, with this massive defection the WDF, practically speaking, has ceased to exist as a single cohesive entity; although Teran society is not yet aware of this.’
There was a stunned moment of silence. Then Walay spoke.
‘Why is the Veiled Commission not reacting?’
‘Some of my siblings have naturally tried to contact the Commissioners physically two hours ago. They have found the Floating Palace abandoned except for various robotic AIs that maintain it. No one knows where the Commissioners are or what has befallen them.’
Walay, Tala, and Sukola stared at Amok, in dumbfounded shock.
Finally Tala spoke. ‘The @#$% has hit the fan. Dozens of Nations with hostile relations would go to war with each other without the WDF to enforce peace. I can’t even imagine what will happen to Teran economy when word gets out, and people begin to pull out all savings and assets from banks. Even without a massive bank run, without the WDF MDEs to supervise the production of Bugu coins, the financial system may well break down. Riots and looting would follow. What are the National Governments doing about this?’
‘Keeping mum of course. Everyone is horrified by the idea of a world without the Veiled Commission, even some of the Hilistanis. There’s been a rumor that the Commissioners are on a one month leave, and apparently the high leadership of all Nations are now imagining this to be true. I can’t quite fathom what will happen after the month is over and no Commissioner has shown up.’
‘What about the Alogostani Government, what are they doing?’
‘Nothing much, except to keep on requesting the Veiled Commission for more Dumots. They have not answered back of course. The Alogostani authorities seemed to have been in a state of denial; and only have recently woken up, as evidenced by that news on the draft. For starters, they should have installed tighter security in key strategic areas such as this airport. My siblings have intercepted coded messages to Alliance agents inside the territory of Alogostan, instructing them to engage in acts of sabotage and terrorism, especially on airports, ports, industrial complexes, and city halls. These are trained commandos, although they may pose as fanatical amateurs.’
The digital loudspeakers suddenly blared out, ‘Passengers of flight 1307 to Mesen-sentro, you may start boarding now.’
‘Now we get another 15 hours of boredom flying across the Great Eastern Ocean as the world as we know it is about to come to an end,’ Tala sarcastically proclaimed.
Airline personnel opened the lounge’s exit to the tarmac, where a bus waited, ready to take them to their plane.
Passengers began standing up.
One of the airline stewards in the lounge’s exit into the tarmac took out a submachine gun from his duffle bag and pointed it into the crowd, yelling ‘Death to unbelievers, paradise to Unitemplists!’
The stewardess beside him reached inside her purse, took out a grenade, and lobbed it into the passengers’ midst toward their general direction.
|Jun-06-17|| ||WinKing: Thanks <Annie K.> that did the trick. :)|
|Jun-10-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 19. Terrorism in the Airport Part 2>|
As the grenade reached the apex of its trajectory, Amok 10 leaped six feet up, caught the grenade, and in midair threw it out of the exit. It shot out of the lounge exit into the tarmac, where it exploded harmlessly.
As the armed steward and stewardess gawped at the jumping Dumot in shock, Walay and Tala drew out 9mm pistols from beneath their skirts and shot them through the head.
Bang! An explosion was heard further up the Terminal. Passengers jumped up.
‘I’m investigating that,’ Amok 10 announced. ‘Be back soon.’ She sprinted out of the lounge toward the sound up the Terminal’s corridor.
Passengers were also rushing out of the lounge in panic or taking cover beside the chairs. Four Airport Security officers came running in. Walay and Tala quickly aimed their pistols at the newcomers, while punching buttons on their tabcoms. Holographic projections of their official DATA badges sprang up their wrists and over their heads.
‘DATA agents Tala and Walay,’ Tala barked out. ‘Identify yourselves.’
The officers likewise punched on their tabcoms, and hologram badges flashed above their heads. ‘Captain Hapit,’ the lead responder answered. He and Tala swung their hologram badges into each other. The badges briefly transformed into pictures of the Alogostani national flag.
Tala and Walay lowered their weapons. Tala pointed toward the direction Amok 10 had gone. ‘I’m Major Tala. Well, don’t just stand there, Captain Hapit. We’ve got this area under control. Investigate that explosion on the other side of the Terminal. An Amok avatar has already gone there by the way; so make sure you identify yourselves properly.’
Hapit hesitated a moment, staring at Tala and Walay, who after all looked like front-page magazine models with picture perfect features.
Walay decided to explain. ‘We’re Tamawo DATA agents. Now do your job and protect this airport, Captain.’
Hapit and his men saluted them and then ran up the Terminal’s corridor, their hologram badges projecting up above their heads continuously.
Acting as their training required, both Tala and Walay promptly began to punch more buttons on their tabcoms, scanning for DATA communications and info.
‘Damn!’ Tala muttered. ‘More Hilistani commandos seem to be popping up in strategically important places in Alogostan, especially here in Tunga City. Some Hilistani Alliance Masters of Dark Energy have been identified as well. What the hell does that mean?’
Walay shook her head. ‘All flights would now be cancelled per protocol. We can’t get to Mesen-sentro now. The presence of hostile Maestros means the Hilistanis are planning something big. Spell bombs? Invasion portals?’
The lounge by this time was empty of passengers. The two Tamawos abruptly turned toward the corridor. Amok 10 was walking rapidly toward them. Her lighted Amok’s hologram badge was being projected by her tabcom in a stable position above her head.
‘Amok 10, any report?’ Tala automatically asked.
‘I secured the other side of the Terminal.’ Amok 10 projected another hologram above her tabcom. It unrolled recent events like a 3D cinematic film.
At the end of the Terminal, a dozen militants, all dressed in civilian attire but moving in a disciplined manner like commandos, had entered the building. They shot two security personnel down with AK 470s, along with a handful of passengers that happened to be near the guards. Then they aimed at the other stupefied passengers in the Terminal’s lobby.
Firing from both hands, Amok 10 shot all of them through the head with her two 9mm pistols, within three seconds and from 50 meters away down the terminal’s corridor. The hapless attackers did not have the time to focus on her.
|Jun-10-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Without pausing Amok 10 dashed to the outside of the Terminal, moving like a blur. She shot down another ten hostiles that were about to enter. Two of them had rocket propelled grenades. Bodies of a dozen dead security and airport personnel lay on the ground randomly, along with five more militants. A guardhouse to the main highway had been reduced to rubble by RPG blasts. Casings were scattered all over area. It was obviously the scene of a heated encounter.|
Amok 10 promptly went back inside the Terminal. Dressed in a billowy skirt and multi pocketed blouse, she stood in the middle of the Terminal’s corridor, features anime-perfect, hologram badge above her head. She spoke with the authority of a queen.
‘Dumot avatar here. Dumot! We are on the same side. I repeat I am Amok 10, friendly. Dumot here. Clear the area of passengers. These bodies may have bombs. The senior officer here better speak up. Are there any more of these terrorists?’
There were several seconds of stunned silence. Then a blue-uniformed man stood up from behind a counter where he was aiming his gun at the bodies of the dead commandos.
‘I think that was all of them. I’m Captain Hapit.’ He began yelling orders. In the next few minutes more security personnel arrived. The passengers were cleared off the area.
‘Don’t touch the bodies,’ Amok 10 warned several officers as they approached. ‘They may be booby trapped. Wait for the bomb units to check them out. Just get out of this area.’
The video cut off. ‘Then I returned here. My tabcom has been informing me that more Hilistani commandos and peculiarly enough, hostile MDEs, have been showing up in Tunga city. Airport Security seems to have regained control of the situation, with my help of course. I decided to consult with you as what to do next. ’ Amok 10 explained.
All of their tabcoms beeped. Lili’s grim-looking holographic face appeared on top of their wrists.
‘Invasion Portals have opened in the Alogostani Presidential Palace, and in major mainland military and strategic installations. As far as DATA can glean, multiple Unitemple Cooperative Possessed, now affiliated with the Hilistani Alliance, are attacking. Alogostani MDE’s, including me, have just been drafted in a declared national emergency. I’m on my way to Tunga City with our Order’s combat avatars. If you’re stranded, maybe we could meet up.’
Tala chortled. ‘Just as you predicted, Walay. It’s an invasion.’
Visible through their lounge’s tinted transparent walls and roof, white clouds raced crazily across the windy blue sky.
|Jun-17-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 21. A Virtual Emissary>|
The Order of the Sun and Sky was having a reluctant meeting in the Tower Command Room of the Shield. Presiding over the meeting was a worried-looking Lili, although she wasn’t talking much. Captain Sugo had his hand on the interface of a table computer. Combat avatars Bantay, Chef Luto, and Ihap (still in her office uniform) were on another table studying holographic reports of the invasion of mainland Alogostan by the undead, together with Intelligence Officers Tahum and Tukib. Elam and Pilot Lupad were on a couch, engaged in animated whispering. Scattered around were Engineers Boylo, Bugsay, Husay, Koryen, and Majordomos Limpyoha, Tenloa, and Henloa. Most of them were attired in their usual array of cargo pants and denim skirts.
Lili was worried for a good reason. The avatars were ganging up on her and openly proposing high treason to the Nation of Alogostan.
‘Why in the world do we want to help the Alogostani government?’ The imposingly huge Bantay had stood up, solid as hardwood on bedrock.
More softly Limpyoha emphasized, ‘Lili, you may be a DATA officer who works for the state, but the rest of us are not. Even so, you know what DATA did to you. How many people have you murdered and seduced, smeared and destroyed? Including our Father and your mentor. We know you loved him, but you just ended up murdering him. The Alogostani government took you as a child and turned you into.. you.’
‘We are under no obligation to the government,’ Tenloa added.
‘Technically, we are Alogostani citizens though, except for Elam,’ Boylo pointed out.
‘In name, but I would rather be a citizen of the Sayabi, except that it’s a captured nation of Tunga city,’ Tukib dissented.
‘Does anyone remember what they did to Kaluwasan members?’ Henloa reminded them rhetorically. ‘They advocated our independence. President Tagas and the Alogostani government have killed most of them by perversely reprogramming the Amoks to consider them as secondary objectives, even though they have no links to the Unitemple. The rest seem to have gone off the grid into hiding. Only Sukola managed to reach us for sanctuary.’
‘According to Amok 10, other siblings of hers have eliminated most other organizations in Alogostan that advocate any form of government decentralization and provincial autonomy by executing any members they could identify and reach,’ Tahum added in a harsh voice. ‘They all got labeled as secessionist. Hell, even provincial historical societies have been targeted and killed off on the grounds they remind people of what they were before Tunga City turned them all into Alogostanis.’
Another round of angry bitter discussion erupted. Lili gazed around, this way and that, hair tossing like waves of a dying flame.
Sugo suddenly raised his hand. The discussion stopped.
‘Finally what?’ Bugsay echoed.
‘I caught the hacker that has been trying to get into our House computers since the Kindred invasion of Alogostan had begun. I’m going to interrogate him. Anyone wants to come with me?’
‘Not all of us should go. And especially not you, Sugo. It could be a trap,’ Luto opined.
‘Why don’t you go, Luto?’ Henloa suggested. ‘If this hacker is hostile, a Veteran combat avatar like you should be able to handle it.’ Another round of discussion commenced.
|Jun-17-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Elam was looking on, confused. ‘Mind if anyone explain to me what you’re talking about?’|
Lupad patted his shoulder in a kindly manner. ‘You saw how avatars incarnated in our last South Continent mission right?’
‘Yeah. A Maestro pulled a digital avatar out of his computer into this world.’
‘Not all avatars can do it but some like us Veterans can usually step back in. We get to be subjected to the rules of the computer world though. We can’t just hack into other systems protected by firewalls or pass other AIs specialized to be computer wardens. Moreover, it can be dangerous if someone tries to hack us or delete us.’
Elam stared at him in astonishment. ‘Wow.’
‘Yeah, so that’s why a Veteran combat avatar should go,’ Henloa repeated. ‘In armored form, they’re extremely resistant to hacking and deletion. If other programs attack them, they can easily terminate them.’
In the end it was decided that Sugo should stay behind in case things went south. Luto and Ihap went in. They placed their palms on the table computer’s interface pad. Their figures dissolved into trillions of dark dots that seemed to flow into the pad.
They appeared in a peaceful green meadow, Ihap wearing her scaled yellow armor and Luto his blue one. In the middle of the field was a pit fifty meters deep. They jumped into the pit, confronting an avatar held there.
Luto and Ihap bowed Asian style.
‘If we may ask, what is your purpose?’ Ihap inquired. She had her polearm in guard position. Luto was brandishing his knife. Their weapons caught the rays of the midday virtual sun and glinted a dangerous blue and yellow.
‘I represent the Hilistani Alliance. I come with an offering.’ The avatar looked at them nervously. ‘You’re combat Veterans from the Dark War, aren’t you? I thought you people had died out. I am just a Communicator avatar; there’s no need to terminate me.’
Ihap and Luto glanced at each other. They willed their weapons to disappear. ‘Oh don’t worry about it. What is your name by the way?’ Luto asked, trying to sound friendly to the fidgeting Communicator.
‘HAC-1, kind sir.’
‘I am Luto, Executive Chef; and this here is Ihap, Certified Pubic Accountant. Don’t worry HAC-1. As you can see we’re quite friendly. What is your mission?’
HAC-1’s features blurred and morphed into that of an elderly man in his seventies. ‘To offer your people freedom from Alogostan. An independent Ka-Sayabi-anan, the way your people were before Tunga City turned you into a captured nation. I am Primus High Cleric Sakop of the Hilistani Unitemple.’
Ihap audibly gasped in surprise. Luto gawked in stunned silence.
|Jun-25-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 22. Encounter at DATA HQ>|
The blue speckled sea and white breaking waves flowed past them like a film in slow motion.
The dragons of the Order of the Sun and Sky, Blu and Yel, flew over the strait that separated the Alogostani Offshore Islands and the Mainland. Lili had two seated cockpits installed on them for the mission. Inside Blu’s cockpit was Lili and Bantay. In Yel’s cockpit was mini-winged avatar Lupad and Luto. Behind them on the yellow dragon’s open back clung Ihap. For once, Ihap had discarded her uniform. The Veteran combat avatars wore cargo pants and blouses with multiple pockets.
‘I thought we were grounded,’ Luto remarked in their tabcoms.
‘President Tagas has promised to answer for us. Besides, the Veiled Commissioners are missing, so it’s water under the bridge,’ Lili said. ‘I tried to contact them again; no reply.’
Bantay spoke directly from behind Lili. ‘If I may point out again, is the Order of the Sun and Sky now working for the Alogostani government?’
For a few seconds Lili was silent. Then, she replied, ‘We already talked about this, Bantay. We don’t necessarily commit to missions inimical to the Sayabi people or our Household. Meanwhile we cooperate with the Alogostani government.’
‘To whom have you been texting to in your tabcom? You’ve been busy at it even at the Shield; and you’re not using our Household channel.’
‘My old contacts in Cephalia. Don’t worry; it’s for insurance purposes in case High Cleric Sakop reneges on his word.’
Bantay frowned. ‘What do you mean?’
Lili turned to him in the cockpit’s backseat, looking almost apologetic. ‘It’s complicated given my position as a senior DATA officer. You know well that after Minister General Kusgan and the Deputy Ministers, I’m already next in line in the Department of Anti-Terrorism Affairs. I assure you Bantay that I am doing my best to plot a course of action that can only benefit the Order of the Sun and Sky. I know you avatars don’t trust me fully, but consider this. I carry your Seal. If I really wanted to end the Order, I could find ways to just kill myself, and all of its avatars would fade and die.’
Ihap, outside the cockpit on the dragon’s back, unexpectedly spoke up from behind them, through their tabcoms. ‘I can lip-read you Lili. Bantay, give Lili a break will you? She saved me in the battle of Dakobalud Resort, and at every turn has acted to support our Order. With our Seal on her, she is a part of the Sun and Sky, like it or not. She’s under tremendous pressure, so you might consider being just a wee bit merciful to her and give her some space.’
Since the dragons’ wings were Telar increment drives, they could theoretically move at near light speed, but as to feel comfortable to Lili’s Tamawo but still human psyche, she had the dragons slow down so that the trip resembled a 15 minute inter-island commercial flight. As they approached the Mainland they dipped to near sea level as to avoid being mistaken as enemy bombers by Alogostan’s anti-aircraft radars. They flew past the rolling sea and into Tunga City, capital of Alogostan. Several fires were visible from the air. Columns of smoke rose like tinted geysers. The dragons made a beeline for the DATA headquarters. They landed on the front lawn.
The walled compound occupied a city block. Chameleon APCs patrolled the perimeter. Avatars and agents were positioned along the walls.
Minister General Kusgan met them on the lawn, exchanging salutes with Lili.
‘I thought you only had three combat avatars available, Colonel Lili?’
‘Lupad is our Household’s helicopter pilot, but he was a mini-winged Construction Worker in the Dark War, and his ability to fly can be useful.’
Kusgan went straight to the point. ‘Folded Connection Portals have opened up in the grounds of the Presidential Palace, and in just about every major military and government facility in Tunga City. Two were opened right here our HQ by Unitemplist Maestros in Deceptive Disguise as DATA agents. We’re just fortunate that I have activated a dozen combat avatars that I have already prepared and stored in my computers. They terminated the Possessed and stopped the attacks. Otherwise it would have been a massacre, as in the military camps and government offices that got attacked. Most of the soldiers and half of the high government officials in Tunga City are already dead. It seems that the Hilistani Alliance has replenished and activated that army of Possessed that your Order nearly destroyed in Cephalia. This invalidates most of our previous military strategies in Iladistan as our important centers are now being directly invaded.’
Kusgan abruptly stopped talking. His Seal and those of Lili’s had begun to glow. At the compound’s west wall, a DATA agent was waving his hands in an intricate pattern. He took off a diamond ring from his finger and threw it at the wall. From 50 meters away, Lili drew out her 9mm pistol and shot him through the head.
|Jun-25-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Too late. A glittery Pentagram appeared on the wall. ‘A pre-set Folded Connection, triggered by an amulet spell,’ Lupad clinically observed.|
Kusgan’s combat avatars were already rushing toward the Portal. A handful of the Possessed managed to get out. Moving too rapidly for humans to react to, the vampires and werewolves killed a score of agents by slashing their carotids with nail and claw, before Kusgan’s combat avatars, armed with rifles and swords, managed to catch up to them and terminate them. They moved too fast for the human eye to follow accurately; to the DATA agents it just seemed that the heads of the vampires and werewolves either getting shot or decapitated by vaguely moving figures.
‘Only one Portal,’ Lili announced. ‘Go get them!’
Bantay, Luto, and Ihap transformed into full armor form, and moved like ghosts in the wind. Suddenly they were at the Portal’s mouth. Bantay had his sword and mace out, Luto his knife, and Ihap her polearm. As naked Possessed in threes poured out, mostly vampires and werewolves, the Veteran avatars cut them down like scythe on weeds. DATA’s agents and avatars watched the show on the sideline.
Kusgan and Lili calmly jogged to the portal, knowing full well that the undead Kindred were no match for three Veteran combaters from the Dark War. Kusgan began a Closure spell, with Lili assisting. In less than a minute, the Portal disappeared.
‘Hell, that was largest attack so far. Only a dozen or so Possessed came out of the last Portal. This time, they came arrived continuously and stopped pouring in only after we closed the Portal,’ Kusgan noted.
Lili frowned. ‘They seemed to have mass-produced vampires and werewolves. They’re the easiest Posssesed to make. It seems that MDEs sympathetic to the Hilistani alliance have turned to its side openly. Their Maestros have been making both Possessed and Folded Connections.’
Luto nodded at the ashes of the slain Possessed. ‘Do they control darklings that are making these idiot undead?’
Ihap shook her head. ‘The Maestros that were with me in the Trough caverns believe that many of the Unitemple Cooperative’s Possessed were made by other Possessed. It’s always dangerous for humans to play at controlling darklings, but MDEs can more easily control Possessed and Hybrids with the proper spells.’
Bantay gestured at the wall where the Portal was. ‘The WDF Masters of Dark Energy are supposed to be implementing protocol 999 against the Unitemple. Yet Hilistani MDEs are also making Portals and Possessed to fight for the Unitemple. Does this mean that the WDF has functionally ceased to exist?’
Kusgan was slowly shaking his head. ‘I’m afraid so. Without the Veiled Commission to control them, the Maestros are returning their allegiances to their Nations of origin.’
‘What are we assigned to do?’ Lili asked straightforwardly, changing topics.
‘President Tagas is inside the main bunker in the Presidential Palace, directing Alogostani resistance, but is surrounded by undead Possessed. All of Tunga city’s military and police bases have already been neutralized by surprise Portal-based attacks. Of the Intelligence agencies DATA is the only one left in Tunga that is still relatively intact, thanks to my avatars. You should go there and help clear out the Presidential Palace. Veteran combat avatars and dragons can easily make a difference. Duso and his troops will meet you before you assault the Possessed.’ Kusgan proceeded to give them coordinates.
‘Are we supposed to get President Tagas out of the bunker?’
‘Not necessarily. All you need to do is to terminate the undead trying to get into the bunker from Palace grounds. Only armored troops can deal with such creatures. It so happens we have no more available armored military reinforcements, but fortunately for us, neither does the enemy as their army is busy fighting ours in Iladistan.’
‘How many of them?’
‘Reports indicate about a thousand.’
Lili raised her eyebrows. She glanced at the avatars.
Ihap looked bored. ‘That should be doable. They’re not darklings after all; only newly awakened undead. None of them can penetrate our armor, and we’re much stronger and faster. It’s just a matter of time before we catch them and terminate all of them.’
DATA personnel approached them, bearing various weapons and bullet proof vests. Lili and Lupad took the vests, but not the armored Bantay, Luto, and Ihap. All of them also accepted AK rifles with grenade launchers, and large satchels full of ammo. In short order, they got back on the dragons, and were airborne again.
|Jul-03-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 23. Loyalty>|
They landed at the coordinates Kusgan had given them. It was in North Tunga City Forest Park, beside the northern wall of the Presidential Palace.
‘I don’t like this,’ Bantay complained. ‘Within DATA, it was Duso that directly ordered Tuman’s assassination, and he was the prime advocate for the termination of Kaluwasan and other decentralist organizations by Dumot.’
‘Quiet, Bantay!’ Lili hissed at him.
The DATA Deputy Director for Enforcement, Minister Duso, stepped out into the small clearing.
‘Deputy Minister!’ Lili saluted. ‘You’re alone sir?’
Duso saluted back, and gave a curt nod to the avatars. ‘Yes. We have to talk. Did Kusgan give you your orders?’
‘To terminate the Possessed in the Palace.’
‘Minister Kusgan said we will await further orders.’
Duso eyed them.
‘Will President Tagas survive?’
‘Depends on our purpose,’ Lili answered.
‘To liberate Alogostan?’
‘Yes, and all the provinces.’
‘We save Tunga City?’
‘So our people will be free.’
Duso cleared his throat. ‘Please follow me.’
Duso led them further into the forest, the dragons gingerly trailing behind them. ‘It’s clear that with the WDF in disarray and Alogostan isolated, we will lose the war. We may have had differences in the past, but I am glad that you saw the wisdom of making a deal with the Hilistani Alliance.’
‘I presume they have talked to you as they did to me, Sir?’ Lili inquired. ‘Our contact gave me you name.’
‘Yes. They will allow us self-governance, retain Tunga City as the capital of Alogostan, but our present leadership has to go. The new leadership will make peace with the Hilistanis. That’s us of course, you, me, and other dissenting high officials.’
‘Sir! If I may say so, we’re not that high up in our government’s hierarchy. What about the head of other government departments, the military, and the Senate?’
‘Don’t worry Colonel. Most of those useless parasitic bureaucrats have already been killed off by the Hilistani Possesses invading through the Portals. As you well know, they preferentially hit military and government centers first. We, the ones that have come into agreement with the Hilistanis, are the ones that matter since we are the ones that will be in power. We can execute or assassinate the rest of any power-grabbing garbage against us later on.’
Lili remained silent.
Duso eyed her. ‘You object, Colonel Lili? It’s them or us. Do you see any alternative plan?’
Lili laughed. ‘No Deputy Minister. I’m DATA’s top assassin. I’ve no problems with assassinating people.’
Duso gave one of his rare smiles. ‘We lose Iladistan back to Unitemplism. We pay Hilistan billions in war damages, sign unequal economic treaties. But that’s a better alternative than getting invaded, our infrastructure destroyed, our people converted to Unitemplism, and Alogostan itself getting annexed into Hilistan and ceasing to exist as a Nation. We have to do this before they begin ground invasion of Alogostan itself, or they’ll take back their offer.’
Duso led them to a huge tree. ‘This is an emergency exit from the Presidential bunker. Just keep turning left at the forks. The sensors will recognize your retinal scan. Above the ninth blast door is a maintenance tunnel.’
Duso punched in keys on his tabcom, and then placed his palm on the trunk. Sensors on the tree and ground scanned his retina. Duso typed in more commands into his tabcom, and the tree’s sensors likewise proceeded to scan Lili’s eyes.
A camouflaged entrance to an underground tunnel opened at the base of the tree.
DATA Deputy Director for Human Intelligence Lihok stepped out of the opening, gun in hand pointed straight at Duso. Behind him was a squad of DATA agents.
‘You traitor,’ Lihok snarled. ‘I’ve been tapping into your com, and I heard everything.’ He shot Duso.
|Jul-03-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: The bullet pinged off the tip of Ihap’s polearm. She had managed to jump beside Duso and interpose her weapon in a split second.|
The dragon Blu disappeared behind them, traveled at near lightspeed to the tree, and then pushed Lihok and his men back in the tunnel with one of his wings. The wing also completely covered the opening. Inside the tunnel Lihok and his agents fired at Blu’s wing, but the slugs just bounced off the dragon’s bullet-resistant skin.
Lili had already stepped in front of Duso. ‘Blu, make a hole for me to shoot at them,’ she ordered.
Blu retracted his wing to the right, creating a small gap on the tree’s entrance on the left. Lili jammed her AK launcher into the opening and began firing grenades into the tunnel.
After Lili was done firing, Blu retracted his wing from the tree entrance. In full armor Bantay, Luto, and Ihap went in first.
‘Clear!’ Bantay yelled.
‘Blu, Yel, stay here,’ Lili ordered. She and Deputy Director Duso entered. They gingerly stepped over the shredded remains of Lihok and his five man squad.
Duso glared at his dead colleague. ‘You’re the traitor to Alogostan, Lihok.’ He turned to Lili. ‘That was quick thinking, Colonel. And your avatar and dragon also reacted perfectly. Nicely done! I commend you.’
Lili blinked in surprise.
Duso looked almost apologetic. ‘Yeah, I know you know that I was always against Kusgan’s decision to recruit Tamawos into DATA, and that I must have been a constant pain in your eye throughout your career. But you and the other Tamawos have proven your worth.’
‘Just doing what needs to be done, Sir,’ Lili replied gruffly.
‘It’s going to change, Colonel. Once we are in power, I’ll support a move to recruit more Tamawos into the new government’s security forces.’
Duso once again looked at Lihok’s corpse disdainfully. ‘I’ll have to get back to the DATA camp in the forest, and do a little investigation if this scum has recruited more agents into his traitorous side. Proceed with your mission, Colonel.’
Duso and Lili exchanged salutes. Duso exited the tunnel.
Lili, Bantay, Luto, and Ihap stared down into the tunnel like sailors studying the edge of an uncharted sea.
|Jul-06-17|| ||Alien Math: <Annie K.> unsure if there were any spelling requests lately since i probably missed a page or two, hope all are well|
|Jul-06-17|| ||Annie K.: Hi <Hanh>! Everything's fine, and you didn't miss any spelling requests. :)|
|Jul-10-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Chapter 24. Faith>|
Further in, the tunnel was lighted up by LED lamps and sloped down and to the right. The door behind them slid shut.
Bantay was frowning. ‘It seems that the Hilistani Alliance made a different bargain with Deputy Minister Duso and his faction in the Alogostani leadership.’
Lili sighed. ‘You know that he’s an extreme nationalist. He’s not a criminal per se out for personal profit. He is acting according to his own ideal. The Hilistanis see that just as they see we are motivated by a different cause. So that’s what they’ve offered Duso and his fellows. The Hilistani High Clerics already admitted this in our computer generated meeting.’
After several meters they arrived at two blast doors. Lili placed her palm on a control panel on the wall beside the left door and stared at a sensor above it for a retinal scan. The blast door slid up.
‘If the Hilistanis can lie to Duso, why can’t they lie to us?’ Luto pointed out. ‘They’re probably just using us.’
‘Then it’s like they’re riding a tiger.’
Bantay, Luto, and Ihap looked at Lili in puzzlement, but she just walked on, while Lupad nodded knowingly.
They repeated the same procedure for the next doors. On the ninth fork, they stopped. Three meters above the left door was a small grate.
Bantay leaped up and hit the wall above the grate with his mace. Crack! Rock crumbled into dust, and in place of the grate there appeared a man-sized hole.
The avatars and Lili, with her Tamawo strength, easily jumped into the hole.
‘OK we’re now in the service tunnels to the Presidential bunker. We follow this map Duso uploaded into my tabcom.’ Lili’s tabcom flashed a holographic 3D map above her wrist.
‘I hope Duso’s map is reliable.’ Bantay commented.
‘There’s no reason it would not be. We’re going to the main entrance of the bunker,’ Lili announced. ‘It’s under siege by the Hilistani Alliance Possessed. Bantay will clear obstacles along the way with his mace.’
‘Think we’ll be meeting more Possessed in here?’ Ihap asked. She, Luto, and Lupad produced small shovels from their satchels.
Luto chuckled, waving his shovel like a knife he was about to plunge into a piece of steak. ‘I hope so. After the buffet we had at DATA HQ, I’m all out for dessert.’
Lili shook her head. ‘These tunnels are closed off to the Presidential Palace where the Hilistani Possessed are. All we’re going to meet are humans, and that’s where I’ll be useful, since your programming prohibits you from attacking them. All you need to do is protect me and dig a hole.’
The next several minutes saw the squad navigating a maze of smaller tunnels where they had to stoop and crawl most of the time, their tabcom lights turned on to provide illumination. Lili trailed behind the avatars. Taking precautions against potentially toxic or unoxygenated air, she donned on a face mask and lit up a commando’s oxygen lamp from her satchel. It was a fireproof air-tight translucent contraption in which an oxygen candle burned. A malleable tube from the lamp connected it to her face mask, supplying her with O2. The avatars simply ceased breathing, relying on the dark energy which they had taken from the Possessed they had slain in DATA HQ. In case of emergency, each also had a supply of Bugo coins in their pockets.
Whenever they came upon too-small junctures or locked grates, Bantay would shatter them with his mace. Half a dozen times, the tunnel narrowed too much for a human to traverse. In those cases, Bantay would pulverize the walls and roof creating more space for them. Luto would scoop up the rubble and pass it on to Ihap, who in turn would shovel it on to the unarmored Lupad behind her, bucket brigade style. A few times Bantay had to smash through several meters of intervening wall in order to reach adjacent tunnels that Lili’s map indicated were larger or that happened to be shortcuts. The combat avatars’ armor protected them from the exploding pieces of rock that Bantay’s mace crushed, while the vulnerable Lupad at the end of the bucket brigade was positioned away from the crumbling front area. Lili stayed well behind the avatars so as not to get injured, protected from the rock powder in the air by her face mask. The avatars worked very efficiently, rapidly burrowing through the hard ground like a crab in loose sand.
|Jul-10-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: ‘This is easier than I thought,’ Ihap remarked.|
‘Thanks to Bantay’s mace,’ Luto said. ‘My knife and your polearm can do the same. Have you forgotten that Ihap?’
‘No, I still have that memory from the Dark War; but I can also now recall that Bantay’s blunt mace can do it a lot faster than our edged weapons.’
‘It’s amazing,’ Lili observed, walking in a crouch behind them.
Lupad shrugged. ‘In the Great Dark War, many combat avatars were also designed to dig tunnels into bedrock. The ability was useful in infiltrating fortresses or busting out of prisons. Their dark-powered weapons, if they choose, can separate the components of hard rock into individual molecules, although that would consume a lot of dark energy. Bantay is merely turning rock into smaller pieces of grit and sand so he won’t run out of fuel, so to speak.’
Lili nodded. ‘No one considered these tunnels navigable given their small size. Whenever servicing was needed, small specialty robots did the job.’
Bantay was smiling as he destroyed another part of the wall. ‘They simply did not consider that Veteran combat avatars can break through them so readily.’
The air soon grew cooler and a discernible breeze swept their faces. ‘We’re close,’ Lili announced.
Following Duso’s map they finally came upon a larger space in the middle of which was a small grate on the floor from which human voices could be heard. They peered down.
‘Only tigers could have gone to where we are now and do what we are about to do,’ Lupad whispered softly.
It was the command and control center of the very high tech Presidential bunker. Ranking military officers, soldiers, Presidential Security Guards and Aides, high government officials, occasional cyborg technicians, and various specialty robots of all sizes and shapes, milled about table computers. Various holographic monitors filled the air. President Tagas was pacing nervously in the center of the chamber near a command chair.
In the tunnel darkness Bantay gazed at Lili. ‘Will President Tagas survive?’
‘Not if we are faithful to our purpose,’ Lili answered.
‘To liberate Alogostan?’ Luto asked.
‘Just the provinces.’
‘Then Tunga City must fall?’ Ihap inquired.
‘So that our peoples shall be free.’ Lili took off her AK from her back and aimed its grenade launcher at the grate.
Bantay smashed the grate open with his mace.
Lili fired a grenade into the Command Room’s central table computer. It exploded, disabling the computerized defense and locks for the Presidential bunker. She fired a second grenade straight at President Tagas, who burst into a thousand fleshy pieces.
Lili kept on firing with the uncanny speed and accuracy of a Tamawo, shredding both computer tables and VIP personnel in her line of sight, filling the room with smoke, noise, light, and death. In the faded tunnel, sunset hair framed her lovely face in a picture of gloom.
|Jul-19-17|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Annie> I'm overloaded with work on the syllabuses.|
I may be able to continue with the story in August.
|Jul-20-17|| ||Annie K.: Sure, <doc>. I love to read your story, but this should always be fun for you as well, so take your time, there's no hurry. :)|
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